If you asked Chris Dahl what he would be doing in 30 years when he left his family ranch in Eastern Montana to attend Stanford University, he probably wouldn’t have said leading a successful SaaS (software as a service) company. But that’s exactly what Chris, and the leadership team at Foundant, is accomplishing each day from their home base in Bozeman, MT. Foundant, recognized as one of Inc.’s fastest growing private companies, began in 2007 with a mission to maximize the impact of the philanthropic community. As a founder, Chris utilized his Masters of Computer Science degree from Montana State University to help build software that allows grant makers, grant seekers, community foundations, and scholarship providers to ‘free up time’ from tedious and redundant work, giving them more time to focus on their missions. He enjoys problem-solving and the challenges that come with software development, process improvement, and building teams.
Chris graduated from Leadership Montana in 2016 and reflected on his time in the program as “transforming”. He credits the study of Gracious Space as one of the most influential tools he uses each and every day in his professional career, helping him and the organization to become continuous learners and applying mutual respect and creativity to some of their most intractable problems. With Foundant’s strong growth, Chris forecasts that one of his biggest challenges will be “to continue to develop relationships and foster teamwork as the company expands”. His learning during Leadership Montana helps him invest in others with trust and vulnerability.
Chris shared that his local LMT classmates stay in touch and highlighted networking as a bonus benefit he wasn’t anticipating when he walked into the first session in Big Sky. As he concluded his Leadership Montana learning experience, he gratefully acknowledged that the curriculum helped him build confidence, improve his listening skills, and gain a deeper understanding of his leadership strengths and weaknesses.
A forever learner, Chris listens to a variety of podcasts on road trips to his family’s ranch and recently challenged himself with tennis. His love for the great Montana outdoors continues with solo pack trips (6-days last summer in the Bob Marshall, where he soaked up the scenery and literally saw no one for days) that help him recharge. Along with being an avid outdoorsman, Chris’s secret superpower in being a great uncle and ‘mentor’ to his niece and nephew, who call often for both personal and professional advice.
As Chris thinks about the future, he is interested in becoming more active with his family’s ranch and more involved with changes in agriculture and food production. He also can see dedicating some of his time to mentoring. He is grateful for the learning provided through Leadership Montana that provides him a strong foundation of skills and knowledge to empower his colleagues and team at Foundant, as well as encourage younger generations.